Versailles Checklist: Being a French Basic

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It would have been great if I had managed to get this post up before buying and carrying around my first baguette, because that would have been on the list.
But I took my baguette on its maiden voyage a few hours ago, and in the interest of journalistic integrity I am unwilling to pretend otherwise.

But there are a few other things that seem like essential ‘living in France rites of passage’.

Back to the baguette:
It’s so odd, the national obsession with bread, particularly baguettes. You can see someone with a baguette tucked under their arm at almost any hour of the day on almost any street.  Sometimes with more than one baguette.
To the extent that I saw a woman carrying two very long but thin pieces of lumber and my first though before I saw them clearly was that they must be baguettes. Because that seemed more likely.
People rip off pieces of baguette as they walk down the street, chew on baguette-based sandwiches around lunch time, and hand out chunks to satisfy hungry snackish children.
I don’t blame them. It’s very good and very cheap fresh-baked bread. My new personal debut baguette is a multigrain mix from Bigot (honestly the name loses something in translation) for 1,60 euros, or approximately 2 American dollars.  I need something to spread my puree des amandes/puree des noisettes/gelee de coing/gelee de cassis on. In part because I need to stop foraging off my hosts (not because they mind, but because they prefer the cracker-type of bread) and also because I’m planning a picnic in the Versailles gardens tomorrow (it’s a hard life).

So how did it feel toting around my very own, very French baguette? Well, externally I felt very local and French and whatever but I still can’t do it unironically. I actually cracked up multiple times looking at the big baguette-shape protruding from my shadow. Both with childish glee in a dream come true and also because I felt like a french satire missing only a beret and pencil thin mustache.

Now that there’s a big check mark next to taking my baguette for a walk, what further basic French things do I need to catch up on?

  • I need to purchase un panier for my smaller market trips: Like the one I took today. Sure, the baguette gets tucked under the arm, but what about the figs and bananas? In this case, they went in a plastic bag (ugh) generously provided by the shop. But the ultimate goal is to have a mid-sized straw bag and a mid-sized canvas tote for all my shopping needs. And also my picnic-ing and luck packing needs. Because I can’t keep borrowing Marthe’s Dior shopping bag from the pantry (I mean, I could, but I want a panier). Thankfully these things are sold everywhere. I may even be able to find the perfect panier at the local market tomorrow (tomorrow is one of the three days). And then I would have to carry it around during my picnic, but it seems worth the sacrifice.
  • If I successfully find the panier of my dreams, it may also be coming with me on my trip around the Chateau de Versailles. Now that I have adequately explored the gardens (which is saying a lot for someone who, the first time seeing them, had a panic attack about never having the time to step on every single cobblestone. OCD), it’s time to check out the chateau’s actual innards. And the Trianon. And the hameau.  The castle opens at 9, which fits pretty perfectly with my habitual 8/8:15 am pastry breakfast and then the Trianon opens at 12. So the plan is to do the castle, have myself a little picnic, probably by the lake (except I don’t know if I can resist feeding the fish and the swans, which is not how I want to spend my landmark baguette), and then check out the Trianon (which isn’t open without tickets- hadn’t realized that when I walked in the garden for a few minutes last time. Explains all the guards on motorcycles staring at me).
  • Get around on a bike: Once I know Versailles a bit better I want to join the fleets of bike-riding locals (not the tourist groups on bikes). It’s funny, people of all ages riding bikes around. Kids other way to or from school, adults… all frequently with baguettes, if you didn’t guess.  And then maybe someday I will join the fleets of people with motor bikes. Still trying to restrain myself from asking randos for rides.

Things already accomplished: pastry breakfasts (pretty much everyday), shopping in a local market (approximately three times a week), taking the RER to Paris and back (complete with electrical difficulties), shopping with a wheely trolley (I’m told these are les chariots in French. Both by people and by Google Translate. Chariots. Classic).

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